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Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.

  • Dominion provided four cash infusions for Accountability Virginia totaling $250,000 from July through September, according to a quarterly financial report filed this month. It recalled one $50,000 payment in August.
  • It's the most the company has given to any statewide political committee in Virginia this year, according to disclosures on its website.

What they're saying: “Our company’s political donations are disclosed monthly on the company website. We give in a bipartisan, transparent manner as our voluntary disclosures demonstrate and will continue to do so,” Dominion spokesperson Rayhan Daudani said in an emailed statement.

  • Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter called Dominion's donation an effort by McAuliffe and Virginia Democrats to "call in their special interest cronies to dump obscene amounts of money into shadowy organizations in order to protect their entrenched interests."
  • A McAuliffe campaign spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Why it matters: Dominion's support for Accountability Virginia provides an avenue for the utility, historically one of the state's largest political donors, to back McAuliffe's candidacy even as the former governor himself refuses its financial support.

Between the lines: Accountability Virginia PAC's messaging and tactics have nothing to do with energy or environmental policy, or even the general business climate in the state.

  • Instead, the group has run social media ads questioning Youngkin's commitment to gun rights.
  • The ads have largely targeted western Virginia, where Republicans are most heavily concentrated.
  • Despite hitting Youngkin from the right, all indications point to Democrats being behind the group.

Go deeper

Trump's PAC has spent $1.4 million in Facebook, Google ads for potential campaign

Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Former President Trump's political action committee, Save America, has spent more than $1.4 million on Facebook and Google ads since March, FWIW reports.

Driving the news: While Trump was banned from posting on various social media platforms, he has managed to work around this as he prepares for the 2024 presidential elections, per the Washington Post.

Updated 2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

4 hours ago - Health

CDC director says COVID-19 messaging should have been clearer

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the messaging around the COVID-19 pandemic and changing guidance should have been clearer.

State of play: Walensky is being coached by media experts and is planning to have more press briefings by herself in order to ensure that CDC is seen as an independent, scientific entity, rather than as a political one, the Journal reports.